with eighth grade came the lessons about israeli history

"I grew up at a Tehiyah Day School, a pluralist day school in El Cerrito California. This school meant everything to me -- it was my community, my family, my intellectual and spiritual center. The teachers were mentors to us; the head of Judaic Studies bat-mitzvah-ed me, my 5th grade teacher introduced me to my summer camp. They were there to warmly encourage us and facilitate our growth as thinkers and humans in the world.

With eighth grade came the lessons about Israeli history and Zionism. I remember sitting in the wooden pews of the small Beit Midrash one afternoon, listening to the Judaic Studies teacher tell us about the miracle of the Independence War of 1948. My friend Jake raised his hand and asked, eyes wide and eager to learn: 'Weren’t there Arabs living there before? What happened to them?' My teachers grimaced and without even addressing his question, sent him out of the room. 

That was the day we learned that when it came to issues related to Palestinians, our growth as thinkers and do-ers meant nothing. That was the day I learned, in the most visceral way, the moral and intellectual toll Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians would take on our community." -Emily Mayer, Tehiyah Day School

Sophie Trauberman